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Q&A:
Is it okay for a 9-month-old to be around someone who has hepatitis C?

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Question


Is it okay if my 9-month-old baby is around a person who has hepatitis C? My sister-in-law had hepatitis C but she's been around my baby since she was born. I'm really concerned about this issue.

Answer


Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that often becomes chronic and can lead to complications down the line. In general, the disease is transmitted by exposure to another's blood or through sexual activity. So it seems unlikely that your baby is at much risk for this infection. Some studies show that transmission to household members, through contact with secretions and blood as in injuries, is small, occurring in about 4 percent of household members. Other studies say there is no risk to household members except through sexual contact.If your sister-in-law has just limited contact with the baby, the transmission risk is very, very small. Careful management of cuts and scrapes and avoiding sharing of toothbrushes or razors are some of the ways to protect all household members from getting this infection. Everyone in the household of a patient should be evaluated. Ifyou or others have acquired the disease, you could be a risk for the infant as well. Ask your child's health care provider or call your local public health department for more specific information and direction based on the particulars of your situation. Blood products are now, since 1992, checked for hepatitis C, so that route of infection in this country has been stopped. Fortunately, this is usually a much milder disease than hepatitis B, for which we now have an excellent vaccine. A vaccine for hepatitis C may be available in the future.  
 
 
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